Staff's Role in Practice Success

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The opportunity to work in the optometric field fell into my lap 21 years ago. My sister owned the UPS store next to an optometry practice and had become good friends with the owner. When she learned he needed a new receptionist, she immediately recommended me, and I relocated to Northern California to take the job. 

I had no optical experience, but quickly fell in love with the patient interaction and the healthcare aspect of the job. Ten years in, one of the ODs, Kristyna Lensky-Sipes, purchased the practice, bringing me along as the office manager. It was just the two of us and two exam lanes, but over the years the practice grew exponentially to our brand-new location with ten employees, four ODs, four exam lanes, and a dry eye suite for our subspecialty clinic.

Dr. Lensky-Sipes always says that staff have a huge role in the success of a practice. Patients spend about 15–20 minutes with the optometrist and the rest of the time with the staff—on the phone making an appointment, asking questions about insurance and products, and picking out eyewear. From the minute they walk in, patients need to feel welcome and reassured that we are going to take care of their needs. 

As office manager, it’s my responsibility to make sure the staff are well-trained and equipped to provide this level of care to our patients. VSP and VSP Premier Edge have really helped me in that respect, providing tools for the practice and for staff, as well as benefits to patients that increase their satisfaction. We use Premier Edge Training and Education to onboard new employees and get up-to-speed on the optometric industry, VSP, and the products we dispense; we maximize resources we get as a Premier Edge practice to provide more value to patients and the practice; we leverage our VSP reps for training, advice, and to answer any questions that arise; and we use Eyefinity software to facilitate individualized patient interactions and streamline billing. 

The most important thing we, as a staff, do to enhance the patient experience is to work as a team. We all support each other in our individual roles and recognize that working together provides a better outcome for everyone. This starts at the top—Dr. Lensky-Sipes recognizes our value to the practice’s success and includes me and our practice manager, Stephanie, in discussions and decisions about the practice. When we receive the quarterly VSP practice report, she has us go through it and make recommendations based on the data, and when our VSP reps come in, we are included in those meetings to discuss next steps for the practice. 

As Eye See It, staff can make or break a practice. No matter how wonderful the doctor is, patients will stop coming in if they don’t feel welcome; they’ll write negative reviews about the practice if they have a bad experience with the staff; and, if they have an unpleasant visit, they’ll tell their friends and family all about it. When the staff have a team- and customer-service-focused attitude, coupled with in-depth knowledge about the products, processes, and benefits, patients will be happier, they’ll keep coming back, and they’ll spread the word about how great the practice is.

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